Fromage frais, meaning "fresh cheese" in French, is a specific type of soft white cheese, typically made from cow's milk. The fresh curd cheese originated in Belgium and northern France and is difficult to find in the U.S. except in speciality shops. It is similar to cream cheese, but has a tangier taste, a richer texture and lower fat content. Fromage frais should not be confused with fromage blanc (which means "white cheese") or creme frais, which is a thickened cream, according to Thyme for Cooking.
Fromage frais comes in several forms. It comes in primarily three fat-content variations, "fat-free" (.01 per cent), 4 per cent and 8 per cent, according to Delia Online. The fat-free version can be used in dips and puddings, and the 4 per cent fromage frais is usually eaten alone or as a topping. Buddy Slim reports that a 47 gram serving (48.2gr) of fat-free fromage frais has only 21 calories.The higher-fat version is primarily used for cooking and as an ingredient in savoury sauces.
European vendors sell a wide selection of fromage frais, flavoured with strawberries, raspberries, apricot and other fruit. The cheese may also be flavoured with herbs, garlic and spices, and some British shops offer vanilla-flavoured fromage frais. Weight Watchers and Nestle offer flavoured fromage frais in the United Kingdom.
How to Serve
Serve the tangy curd cheese by itself or as a spread for sandwiches, or use as a topping for fresh strawberries or other fruit dishes. Serve the cheese with baked potatoes. Caviar and More says the creamy cheese is "perfect for thickening sauces and soups because it can be boiled without curdling." The Belgian brewer Leffe recommends mini-sandwiches on black bread with ham, trout, fromage frais and black pepper, served, of course, with Leffe beer.
Woman's Day suggests substituting either a blend of cottage cheese and yoghurt, or quark cheese when fromage frais is not available. Quark is another curd cheese, made from goat milk or cow's milk, made in Germany and other European countries. Thyme for Cooking suggests ricotta, cottage cheese or cream cheese as substitutes for fromage frais.